The FCC today released a Public Notice with the long-awaited final list of census blocks that will be eligible for CAF Phase II support in the forthcoming reverse auction. The FCC also released a list of census block groups, which will be the minimum area which participants can bid on in the auction. The census block group list includes the “reserve price” and number of eligible locations in the block group. The reserve price is derived from the Connect America Model, and per location funding is capped at $146.10. Participants in the auction should expect that the winning bids will be considerably lower than the reserve price for the census block groups.
The Public Notice did not reveal when the next phase of the auction, the short form application, will be due. However, a previous CAF Phase II order set a time frame whereby the short-form would be due at least three months after the final eligible census blocks are released. Therefore, the short-form could be due sometime in the spring.
The final eligible block list is based on December 31, 2016, Form 477 data, as well as some input from stakeholders that was submitted over the summer. The eligible blocks are all in price cap areas and are not currently served by broadband at speeds of 10/1 Mbps or higher. No rate-of-return areas, or “split blocks” with rate-of-return areas, are supposed to be eligible.
JSI recommends that all clients take a look at the eligible areas near their existing service footprint and determine if there are any opportunities to expand service by participating in the auction. JSI can assist in evaluating the opportunities and analyzing the business case for participating in the auction. JSI has held one webinar on the CAF Phase II auction and will be scheduling two additional webinars, which can be purchased as a discounted package. If you missed the first webinar, it is available as a recording. For any questions regarding the CAF Phase II auction or the webinars, please contact Cassandra Heyne or John Kuykendall in the Maryland office at 301-459-7590.